Despite dire warnings, they voted in person and liked it

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East Lansing voters

Tyler Castillo

Isabel Lenzen (left), Melanie Stoughton (middle), and Adelina Tatone show off their “I Voted” stickers after voting together at East Lansing’s Precinct 2, at Martin Luther Chapel.

Adelina Tatone, a 20-year-old neuroscience major at Michigan State University, was done voting at Martin Luther Chapel Church at 2:44 P.M. Once she arrived it didn’t take long for her to get in and vote. She said that it was well organized and wasn’t very crowded. There was no wait and that the 10 to 12 volunteers that were down there were helpful with any questions they had. 

“There was hand sanitizer everywhere and they reassured us that the pens were sanitized, the chairs, and the booths were also sanitized,” Tatone said. “All the volunteers wore masks and I felt really comfortable.”

Precinct captain Jill Young said she worked the primary in August and that this is her second time as precinct captain.

 “They say we’re about on track for where we are in the past, but I don’t know that because I’ve not worked here,” Young said. “I think that we have had a steady stream all day and we have people that are very dedicated to voting, especially the young people.”

Swift, sparse and safe at a ‘teetering’ time

Antrim Sheriff Brian Begole

McKoy Scribner

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole cast his vote in Antrim Township on Nov. 3. The sheriff is running for re-election after being elected in 2016.

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole of Perry, Michigan, arrived at the Antrim Township Hall in his police cruiser truck to cast his vote for the 2020 Election. BeGole, who is running for re-election, wore a mask and arrived to see one or two people ahead of him in line to cast his vote.

“I think that this is a huge election,” The Sheriff said. “America and what it was founded on is teetering right now.” 

BeGole, a Republican, acknowledged that he felt safe while casting his vote with safety precautions that were in place. 

“They’re following social distancing, it’s a big room and there are not very many voters in there.” 

Taking his protest to the ballot box

Armani Lee, 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate student from Detroit, exercised his right to vote in-person for the first time. Lee cast his ballot at the Union Building at 9 a.m. and said he felt safe during the process. He said this election is more important than ever because of what’s on the line. 

“This election is bigger than me. It’s bigger than all of us … when we all vote we can make an impact on how our government operates … After everything that has happened this year it is crucial that everyone votes. Protesting won’t bring change, but bringing our protest to the ballot box will … and voting for the first time was pretty cool.” said Lee. 

Some voters might be hesitant to go to the polls in person because of the coronavirus, but Lee said getting your vote in is more important.

“It is very safe. Everyone was wearing a mask and physically distant. There were hand sanitizer stations, too … Please get your vote in because that’s what matters.” said Lee.

Little wait, lots of organization at a Detroit precinct

LaTyzha Mills, a 22-year-old caregiver, said there was a bit of a wait at the Michigan Military Museum in Detroit, but it was very organized. Mills arrived to vote about 8:05 a.m. wearing a blue N95 mask. She said around 12 people were ahead of her in line. 

“I chose to vote in-person to enjoy the experience of having the right to vote,” Mills said. 

Procrastinator with a sense of duty

B’nai Barry, a 19-year-old Michigan State University nursing major from Detroit, said she was excited to vote because it was her duty to vote and especially because this election is so controversial.

Barry arrived at the Harper Woods City Hall at 11 a.m.  She wore a black mask with the MSU spartan logo on it. She practiced social distancing.

People  wore masks, there were 6-foot markers on the floor and plastic shields up. Barry said she felt safe with everyone wearing a mask. She noticed a line but only six people in front of her. She said she decided to vote in person because she is a procrastinator.

“My voting process was easy and quicker than what I thought that it would be. I’m happy to see people exercising their right.” Barry said.

She voted to the sound of applause and cheering

Lauren Gentry, 20, said she was pleasantly surprised by the lack of a line at the Kenbrook Elementary School precinct in Farmington Hills. When Gentry and her mother arrived at 5 p.m., there was only one person ahead of them. As a first-time voter, she “chose to cast her ballot in person so that she could get the full experience.” Gentry exited the polls hearing cheers and applause from the staff, congratulating her on this unforgettable occasion.

“I chose to vote because lives are on the line,” Gentry said.

Fowlerville voting was a family affair fraught with fear

Nate Leonard, a 21-year-old Michigan State University student from Livingston County, voted in person for his first presidential election. Leonard said he went home to Fowlerville early in the morning Tuesday to vote with his siblings.

“I did not feel safe because the two different lines were right next to each other with no way to follow safe social distancing guidelines,” Leonard said, “and there were multiple people there not wearing masks.”

Reporters Tyler Castillo, McKoy Scribner, Stephanie McCullum, SeaVion Jones, Jonathan Zinn, Kyana Donaldson and Rachel Duckett contributed to this report.

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